Normally, companies have a low share price for a reason: They are not great investments. But while we certainly do not encourage going after penny stocks -- or trying to make a quick buck on the stock market -- there are times when a low stock price simply represents a good investment opportunity.
Plus, when all is said and done, the share price is normally not nearly as indicative of its value as the market cap, earnings growth, or price-to-earnings ratio.
Keeping this in mind, here are three retail companies worth investigating with a stock price under $10.
Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD)
You might laugh at the thought of buying shares in this seemingly out-of-date convenience and pharmacy store. After all, competitors have taken huge swaths of market share over the past decade. Over the last four years alone, revenue has only increased by 1% per year -- well below the rate of inflation.
Despite this tepid growth, shares of Rite Aid are up an astounding 750% since December 2012. How did the company accomplish such a feat?
The answer lies in the company's history. It made a rather large acquisition in 2007 -- Eckerd -- that really hurt the balance sheet. The timing could not have been worse with the Great Recession right around the corner. Shares of the company plunged 96% between June 2007 and March 2009 as a result.
But management has been righting its ship -- closing stores and becoming much more efficient -- and the company is finally profitable again. Interest payments, which have eaten up a huge portion of revenue in the past, will be coming down soon. As a result, the company can invest in store upgrades -- which have shown promise in their limited roll-out so far.
Overall, the stock trades for 20 times expected 2015 earnings. Not cheap, but the improving balance sheet could easily help it beat expectations.
Dangdang is not your typical "retail" stock, but I still think it deserves a spot on this list. The company is a leading e-commerce player in China.
Some have referred to it as the "Amazon of China," but that is not a fair comparison. Amazon has been the undisputed e-commerce king in North America for over a decade. In China, Dangdang has much bigger rivals -- namely Alibaba -- making Dangdang somewhat of a speculative play.
Despite that characterization, the company has been able to grow sales impressively over the past five years. Revenue has increased by 37% per year since 2010 to $1.3 billion. And management sees the heady growth continuing, calling for a 28% increase in the first quarter of 2015.
Dangdang has spent the better part of the last three years building out a network of fulfillment centers. That buildout has prevented the company from producing a profit until recently. That said, Dangdang is expected to report earnings of $0.30 per share in 2015. The stock currently trades for 30 times that figure -- on the expensive side but the growth is there.
J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP)
This retailer's troubles have been well-documented. In the face of pressure from investors and falling sales, the board of directors made a bold move in 2012 by naming Ron Johnson -- former retail guru at Apple -- as its CEO. That experiment lasted all of one year.
Declining same-store sales led many on Wall Street to abandon the stock, as it has fallen 78% from its February 2012 highs.
But as fellow Fool, Rich Duprey, recently pointed out, the stock may have more in its tank than investors are giving it credit for. A partnership with Sephora has led to stronger-than-expected traffic at J.C. Penney stores, and shoppers who come in for Sephora are much more likely to do other shopping as well.
Furthermore, as Rich describes, the company's inventory glut has finally been solved, which helps the balance sheet immensely. Currently, the company is not profitable, so this is far from a sure thing. But for investors who are willing to take on some additional risk, J.C. Penney stock is worth checking out.